This high-kicking chorus girl, fitness god, Broadway baby and fierce drag queen has been sashaying between these roles in this city for quite awhile now. And she’s had some great successes, including a popular co-hosted drag show in Chelsea, a role in a production of “Priscilla Queen of the Desert,“ and strong runs in several drag competitions and pageants. Now she’s back with a vengeance and a new weekly gig! But she’s still that amazing chorus gal who all the other queens have on their speed dial when pageant season comes around. It’s Nomi Sas, YES AND!
Thotyssey: Hi Nomi, thanks for talking to us! You were Paige Turner’s guest performer at her Hardware show last night, how did it go?
Nomi Sas: Last night was great! Working with Paige is like going home and performing with family! We always know how to have a good time! She’s such a cunt!
There’s something about it, when the overture starts… the gays just start flocking in, and not just the twinks anymore! We had quite a few guests from abroad! She’s become quite cultured!
She better be, she’s taking her cultured ass on the road again soon!
So, I think of you as The Drag Queen’s Drag Queen. Like, queens go right to you when they need a guest or a background pageant dancer–male or female–because they know you got the goods. Do you feel that strong sense of sisterhood in NY drag?
Well she is a chorus girl always waiting in the wings! Ready to step out of the line and into the footlights! I love living in the land of Yes And! And my sisters and drag mother have always been very supportive! Every gig I swing into, I know will be fun because of the connection we’ve shared on and off the stage, both in and out of pageants, gigs, rehearsals and shows.
Is Paige your mom?
We always like to joke and call her our acting coach, but my drag mother is Crystal Demure. She and I are traveling on our gaycaytion now!
Awesome! Crystal of course is a beloved NYC queen, and one of the few to really make that transition to Broadway. We’ll get back to her in a bit, but let’s get to the beginning! Where’s your hometown?
I’m originally from Trampa, Florida. Fifi Dubois and I actually went to high school together!
I had no idea there has been such a Trampa takeover of NYC! Were you two friends?
Yeah, I was a year above her, and in a different department. We knew of each other, but didn’t really become friends ‘til junior/ senior year. And of course, we stayed in touch throughout college and transitioning into the city! So excited for her and Shane!
Yes, it’s very exciting! How was your own experience growing up in Tampa?
I love Trampa! My best friends from high school and I have all moved here and live with each other, or within a few blocks of each other. But Tampa was a little quiet. It really has grown since I left for college. There was one gay bar in town at the time called Chambers; it was underneath the interstate, and you parked in the retention pond across the gravel road. But those trips were so few and far between, with doing shows at school and around town. On our off-time, we usually made scavenger hunts and went to drums circles on the beach.
That sounds like a lot of fun. How about performing and the arts, were those always a part of your life?
I didn’t get bit by the theatre bug ‘til kinda “late” in the game. I was a tennis player, and did my first show in middle school. And It’s been inspiration to me since. I went to a high school for the arts, and I was a musical theatre “major.” So we were always in rehearsals, or learning anything about some new aspects or way to hone in our craft. And chances are, you were also doing a show out of school, so going to rehearse after you left your after-school rehearsal. Plus, there was homework from our regular classes (that I would copy from someone at lunch). it was very demanding, but I loved it!
What aspect of performing did you really enjoy the most… the singing, the acting, the dancing? Or was it always the triple threat?
[Laughs] I would like to think of myself as a triple threat–and I’m still sharpening my skills with classes–but dance was always the most expressive for me. And growing up I was always the “chorus boy / girl.” Which I am not mad about! I’m a sucker for sequins and feathers! Give me long legs, a pair of tits and huge headpiece and Yes And I’m In!
You mentioned tennis, and I see that you work as a personal trainer. And clearly you’re very fit now! Are athletics and fitness an enjoyable lifestyle for you, or are they like a necessary evil?
I love my job, and i feel like that’s something you don’t hear a lot of, especially in this city. I still work at Barton, and have some new adventures on the horizon for my fitness career. Yes, it is a necessity for auditioning, but I get to change lives. My clients have been very supportive of my theatrical and drag careers!
I’ve kinda adapted it into the whole SAS persona: I’m the athletic queen on the block (then Terra got all muscle jock! Slurp!). But I fell into it on happenstance.
Did you come to NYC for a specific job or purpose, or did you come to just audition?
I was one of those bright-eyed brunette boys who had two suitcases in hand and a dream in his heart. I went to college in Philly, and senior year everyone was always hopping a bus to go on some audition. So when my best friend and I moved to the city, we just hit the ground running with auditions and looking for real people jobs.
I bet auditioning is much easier for you now than it was then.
So much better, hello, much better [laughs]!
Every year I learn something new that fuels and propels me into the next audition season.
What was your first big break?
[Laughs] uh, honestly i would say this past summer, working on Priscilla at the Ogunquit and Gateway Playhouses! I had done some smaller stints here and there, nothing to call home to about (but I did, cuz mom wants to know). But this summer was a real eye-opener!
The people I got to work with… just jaw-dropping work… my inner 12 year-old self was geeking! I learned something–good and bad–from every person on that production team. True lifers! God, I miss those cunts [laughs], love you Desert Queens!
There’s drag in that show, obviously. How different was that onstage drag than what you do as Nomi?
Since I went back and forth from drag queen and boy form so frequently, I got to take off my persona and leave it at the theatre. In the city, when you leave your gig, you’re still on; there are still eyes on you. But on occasion, SAS would strut the company housing of Gateway, or the bars of Ogunquit, to feel like I was still in the hustle and bustle of the city.
When exactly did Nomi Sas come about?
My best friend J Harrison Ghee, aka Crystal Demure, was crowned winner of Season 2 of “So You Think You Can Drag?” I saw her compete in her season, and really understood the different points of view drag had to offer. So after not much success in the audition world, I decided to see what the gig was all about.
Crystal gave me a crash course, and I got my first wig and made my debut at Paige Turner’s Virgin show (back when Vlada was a thing). I guess you could say it was like the theatre bug. I got bit, and wanted to keep performing. And luckily, Season 3 of SYTYCD was around the corner, so I thought I had to defend the crown!
What’s the origin of your name? Please say Showgirls!
Hahahaha Yes And! Nomi Malone from Showgirls and the legendary showgirl herself, Rachelle “SAS” Rak!
How did you do in your season of SYTYCD, and how did you enjoy the experience?
I fared pretty well. I wasn’t successful in defending the crown, but I made the Top 3 and was Miss Congeniality. I lived the experience; it’s what introduced me to my drag family! It was Drag Bootcamp. I still perform those numbers; I did one last night [laughs]! It’s the best way to learn and create! You just have to go in with an open mind, and expect nothing more. It “launched” my “career” [laughs]!
Now between that time and the two big competitions you entered this year, what sort of gigs were you doing as Nomi?
I stayed pretty consistent with Nomi. The winner of our season, Lady Bukkake, asked [fellow SYTYCD contestant] Chelsea Piers and I to be weekly guests at her show. We would gypsy around from show to event, just happy to be there!
Then, Chelsea and I covered for Paige one night back when XES Lounge was a thing, and the manager asked us if we wanted to take over Monday once Bob and Frostie closed [their show] “Sisters.” We played there for a year, and when I left [our show] “#GYPSIES,” Chelsea continued the legacy until XES closed its doors.
And that’s when the boy form took over a little more. I was getting certified as a trainer, and hours were so early that I really only limited myself to special guest spots and the big show at New World [where SYTYCD and the showcases for the winners were held].
And then this year… Miss Barracuda 2016!
That was actually my big comeback! [That pageant’s host] Tina Burner kinda jump-started the engine one night at dinner.
I saw you perform in Miss Barracuda, you were great! That pageant looked like a real challenge, and brought out a lot of creativity in the contestants. How’d you enjoy that experience?
That experience gave me everything! I got to come in with a whole new set of eyes, after being in and out of the biz! It really challenged this chorus girl to become a look queen! It was a quick reminder on how much time and attention you need to pull off a full LOoK QuEEn!
And right after that, you were in another drag competition: “New York’s Next Top Drag Queen” at the Metropolitan Room, which focused on live singing. What were your favorite musical moments from that?
The finale week was a fun challenge! The theme was 90s–such an odd theme for the finale. I was really tricked up leading up to it, but my final set I thought was a preview of what my cabaret would be like, versus just doing a park-and-bark, which I had been doing most throughout the competition.
But don’t get me wrong, I will still sing all 7 minutes of “Meadowlark!”
Shirley U. Jest, who also competed in Miss Barracuda with you, won NYNTDQ, and now as a result she’s getting a showcase Sunday at the Metropolitan Room, featuring Miss Nomi Sas as the special guest! How have rehearsals been for that?
Time consuming, but so much fun! I get to play the villain, which is so much fun for me! But she’s really been able to stretch her creativity with the showcase! She’s written an incredibly Whitty script and brings so much heart and charm to the work space that makes my job that much easier! I’ve enjoyed watching her work these past few months.
It sounds like it’s going to be a great show, I’m excited for you both! And you have a bunch more stuff going on at the Metropolitan Room coming, I see.
Yes, so excited. I love that space! I’ll be doing a drag bingo night on Thursdays downstairs in the Met room, starting next week, October 6th! Drinks, prizes, maybe a showtune or two!
Awesome! And on October 8th (Saturday), you’ll be a guest for “The Q,” a live talk show held at–wait for it–the Met Room! What will you all be discussing?
The topic I believe is “theatre queens” [laughs], so SAS is swinging in!
Have you been following this current season of SYTYCD?
It’s been a great season! A lot of the Metropolitan girls are in it, so I love seeing them enter the arena! And I’ll be making special guest appearances!
Okay, in closing: What’s something the world needs to know about Nomi, but maybe doesn’t know yet?
I like groups [laughs]. Questionmark.
I am reading quite a bit into that. Thanks Nomi, and enjoy your trip with Crystal!
Nomi Sas will host drag bingo at the Metropolitan Room on Thursday evenings (9pm-ish) starting October 6th. Also at this venue, she’ll be performing in Shirley U. Jest’s showcase “Jest a Girl: a Tale of Queens and Showbiz” on October 2nd (9pm), and will be a guest on the panel show “The Q” there on October 8th (4pm). Nomi can be followed on Facebook, Instagram & YouTube.